Evidence that the photograph of her on Jaluit is real

In light of the latest hoopla with regard to the infamous photograph of the dock on Jaluit that proves Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were in Japanese custody...

Your honor... I present further evidence.

Let's recap, shall we?

The History Channel and my friend Les Kinney release a photograph that shows a number of verifiable details.  A ship identified on the show as the Koshu towing a plane on a Japanese barge with the same dimensions as the Electra

The show examines that the ship indeed was the Koshu.  We have records from the Koshu itself that show it was in Jaluit in July of 1937 (more on that later.)

The photograph in the portfolio - not a book, nor "a copyrighted book" - but a photo album that's been stamped 1935 - never published, not ever a book -  (if we can't agree on what a book is, what's the point of language anyway?) A book is bound - it's published, it's reprinted - that's not the case here. 

Guess they couldn't bind books in Japan without string.
Or perhaps it is what it is - a porfolio of photos stamped as 1935 incorrectly.

It's a photograph with other photographs taken by the same photographer tied together with the traditional string that photo albums have. 

1935 stamp. Not a copyright notice. Not a bound book by any stretch 
of the imagination. Not a published, reproduced book.  
No other copies of this portfolio.
That's all very clear from the website itself.
Hey look, a 1937 Ford! (just kidding - but you get the idea)

The photo caption for the photograph of the Jaluit dock actually says the ship in the photo is the "Koshu."  Gee willickers - you can't claim the photo proves one thing, then doesn't prove another thing.

When was the Koshu at the dock in Jaluit?  I reveal that below.

The photo has: A man standing on the dock who forensic photo experts claim is a match with Fred Noonan, and the back of what appears to be a woman crouching.  

It looks to my eye that it is Amelia's back - but then I've only amassed 5000 photographs of her, watched 30 hours of stock footage of her, been hired on the Diane Keaton and Hilary Swank films, have been studying her back for oh... 30 years now.  Could it be someone else's back?  I suppose so. But from the pose that I see - my brain said "oh, look, Amelia's back."

So there are other people on the dock as well.  Can these folks be placed on the dock in 1937. As I showed in a previous post here - yes, there is some evidence of Europeans being arrested, detained by the Japanese on these docks in the past.  De Bisschop is one, the fellow "V B 2" who wrote the "I saw Earhart in custody on the dock at Jaluit in 1937" letter is another.

But I digress.

The Marshall Islands issued a preliminary press release where they refuted the "debunking"of the photograph - claiming that their records and oral histories show that dock was not built until 1936.

(They've issued a second official release where they didn't mention the dock, but reaffirmed that they believe the words of the elders who claim they saw the Electra come down, saw the woman pilot arrested, and reported the dock was not built until 1936.)

So what else can we glean from this photograph?

Well, a number of things.

As reported below, an eyewitness who claimed he spoke to a stevedore who helped drag the Electra off of Mili Atoll, and then put it on a Japanese barge which took the Electra to a Japanese ship docked in Majuro.

Andew Bryce, Navy Vet, who spoke to the stevedore on Majuro
who claimed he transported the Electra to a Japanese barge, then to a Japanese ship. His brother Douglas saw the Electra in a hangar on Saipan. What are the odds two vets - brothers would hold key clues to her plane? (Both interviewed in the "eyewitnesses on saipan" footage)

There's an eyewitness report in the footage below that quotes a Marshallese congressman who remembers the day in 1937 when his father took him to the dock to show him the plane on the back of the Japanese ship, and told him about the arrest of an "American spy."

He was a boy when his dad to him to the dock in 1937 to show him the Electra.

There's an eyewitness report in the footage below where Bilimon Amaron, a local on Jaluit, claims the Japanese brought him aboard the Japanese ship to examine Amelia and Fred and he saw the plane on a sling on the back of the ship.

Bilimon Amaron, a man above reproach,
according to his business partner of 40 years. 

Bilimon was filmed at least twice, 
and his story reported in a number of books.
But maybe they're all wrong? Maybe they made that up?

What's a simple logical way to learn if and when this ship, identified by many sources as the Koshu, wound up on Jaluit?

The ship's records.

Turns out there's someone who has examined the ship's records.  Vincent Loomis.  Turns out he wrote about examining those records in 1985.  I found these references this morning, and I will post them verbatim and where they came from:

From a page marked "Warships in the Marshalls in 1937"

Subject: Warships in the Marshalls
Date: 2/21/01
From: "R.R."
Concerning Japanese military in 1937, I have a document that might be of interest.

Department of State
Division of Far Eastern Affairs
5 July 1937
Subject: Search for plane of Amelia Earhart

"Mr. Hayama informed Mr. Ballentine over the telephone that the Japanese Embassy had received an urgent telegram from Tokyo asking that inquiry be made of this Government whether the Japanese Government could be of assistance in connection with the search for Amelia Earhart, in view of the fact that Japan had radio stations and warships in the Marshall Islands... Mr. Ballantine expressed his appreciation etc."

"The significance is that the Japanese did have warships in the Marshall islands on 5 July 1937."

Subject: Re: Warships in the Marshalls
Date: 2/22/01
From: "D.P."

"At the very least, it shows that someone at the Department of State thought that the Japanese had warships in the Marshalls. This is the same intelligence that missed the Japanese planning to bomb Pearl Harbor. Their beliefs could have been incorrect."

(reply) From Ric

The communication alleges that Mr. Hayama (presumably of the Japanese Embassy) called Mr. Ballantine (presumably at the U.S. State Dept.) to tell him that the embassy had just received an offer from the Japanese government to help with the Earhart search because "Japan had radio stations and warships in the Marshall Islands...". 

"This would seem to be a rather straightforward acknowledgement by Japan that it had warships in the Marshall Islands. What ships were they?"

"For (sic) his book Amelia Earhart : The Final Story, Vince Loomis went to considerable efforts to dig out the records of what Japanese ships were in the Marshalls in July 1937. He was trying to figure our (sic) what ship his star witness, Bilimon Amaron, had seen carrying the Earhart Electra on its aft deck." 

"His book claims that he was able to determine that the Japanese really did not carry out the search for Earhart they later claimed to have made, because the ships of the "12th Squadron" supposedly used in the search were, in fact, in port in Japan the whole time. A survey ship also said to have participated in the search, the Kamui (meaning "God's power" and incorrectly listed as Kamoi in most Earhart books) was also in home waters." 

"The only ship Loomis could come up with anywhere near the Marshalls was the seaplane tender Koshu. She was in Ponape, about 400 miles west of the Marshalls, on July 2, 1937 and arrived in Jaluit in the Marshalls on July 13. Loomis says Koshu then left Jaluit but returned sometime before July 19 when she sailed for Truk and eventually Saipan. It is between its departure from and return from Jaluit that he says the ship picked up Earhart, Noonan and the plane at Mili Atoll in the southern Marshalls.


Subject: Re: Warships in the Marshalls
Date: 2/23/001
From: "R.J."

"Here's a pertinent extract from the book TFKing, and others are writing:

"The U.S. also asked the Japanese to search the areas around the Marshall Islands, and official correspondence at the time indicated that they asked the oceanographic survey ship Koshu to do so. The Koshu arrived in the Marshall Island area on or about July 9th, and continued searching for about ten days. 

A 1949 U.S. Army Intelligence report states that despite the fact that no documentation exists in the Japanese Navy, interviews of Japanese officials on Jaliut (sic) and elsewhere indicated that both the Koshu and Kamoi searched the Marshall Islands, with the assistance of a large-type flying boat. Bridge logs of the Kamoi clearly state it was no where near the Marshalls during this time, and we have no documentary evidence that a flying boat was ever used to search for wreckage. 

The report also states that no traces of the Electra were found. 1. The Japanese also offered to search the Gilberts, an offer that seems to have been (understandably) ignored. 2. The Koshu was doing oceanographic surveys, and based upon their reports, one can deduce from their speed and departure date to have arrived in the Marshalls (Jaluit) no earlier than July 9th. 

Official correspondence between the US Navy and State Dept. and Japanese officials at that time acknowledge only the Koshu in assisting in the survey for AE wreckage.... 

What's interesting about this Army Intelligence report is that it is the first document that names the Kamoi. Every AE book states the Kamoi and Koshu were involved in the search. Hmmm. Now about that seaplane...no confirming documents on its existance (sic) ...but I wonder if the anecdotes about a plane being sighted in and around Jaluit during the search phase on the back of a ship was this seaplane and not AE's...I wonder..."

1 US Army Intelligence, 1949a; Kamoi bridge logs in Jacobson archives; Maritime Safety Agency, Tokyo, 1951, Hydrographic Bulletin, 981(8).
2 Western Pacific High Commission, 1937a; U.S. Department of State, 1937; U.S. Navy, 1937e; Spading, 1997.

(reply) From Ric

"We clearly have the Kamui (Kamoi - whatever) nailed, but I'm a bit fuzzy about the Koshu. The Loomis book includes copies of various diplomatic exchanges between the U.S. and Japan but there's no reference to the Koshu. Mike Holt couldn't find a Koshu in A. J. Watts' Japanese Warships of WW2. I wonder what evidence we have that there even was such a boat?

The Honolulu Star Bulletin has an AP release dated 6 Jul 37 from New York; in sum, Japanese officials report that the "2100 ton survey ship Kooshu [sic]" is searching in the Marshall Islands. (In the main article the spelling is "Koshu", so probably an extra "o" typo. Also the Japanese were searching in "other areas near Howland".)

"This is probably independent corroboration of the Koshu's status. Fukiko Aoki, Japanese author, writes in Searching for Amelia Earhart in 1984 (not translated as of yet) that there were two Japanese ships in the area. The "battleship Koshu" and the carrier Kamoi." 

(RM: Obvious error or mistranslation from Ms. Aoki - not a battleship) 

"According to her, she reviewed the logs of the Koshu which reflect the dates and places reported by Ric. The Koshu left Jaluit on 19 Jul 37 headed to Saipan."

(RM: Hello? The Koshu was in Jaluit from July 9th to July 19th?  Then headed to Saipan?  Gee, I wonder what it was taking to Saipan?  Oh, I don't know. Perhaps that shiny aluminum plane that both Bilimon Amaron and Oscar De Brum claim they saw?

There are multiple reports that claim Amelia was taken to Saipan by hydroplane - there is even a claim that a suitcase of hers was found on Truk. (By a GI during the war) I'm claiming neither, but there have been claims made about both.

Ms. Blanco-Akiyama says she was at the seaplane harbor when Amelia and Fred came up the docks, as does the son of another eyewitness in the "Eyewitnesses on Saipan" footage below. (As do eyewitnesses in Goerner's book and his interviews in 1963. But these documents are posted on a research webpage that states that the Koshu not only was docked in Jaluit in July of 1937 but that it went from Jaluit to Saipan. How cool is that?)

Subject: Re: Warships in the Marshalls
Date: 2/22/01
From: "E. E."
Found on www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/misc/45-41.html

From: U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings; Pt. 35, the Clausen Investigation, pp. 52-62.

Fourth Fleet:
Survey and Patrol Division: Koshu

"Seems to be some sort of cargo ship"

From Ric

"Bingo. Nice work. At least a ship by that name existed."

These reports printed from: 

The "Ric" in these reports are written replies from the founder of Tighar.org, Ric Gillespie. (Whose latest expedition (I think this is the 7th or 8th over the past 30 years) is being covered by National Geographic. The one with the cadaver dogs.)

These mentions of the Koshu on Jaluit are from his excellent repository of all things Earhart, the extensive research files from Tighar.org

Not to be overly obvious - but these messages were from 2001.  They were generally focused on the Kamoi - a ship that many thought was involved with the search for AE's plane.  But obviously, it's the Koshu that deserves focus.

Here's the Koshu in the photograph (so identified in the photo caption when put into the photo album originally).

And as confirmed here for the first time, it's in the ship's records that it was docked in Jaluit in July of 1937.


Amelia kneeling in front of the wheel that the dust cover
came from in a previous post

People tend to put theories in opposing camps.

Frankly, I don't care a fig about opposing camps. Or theories. I stick to when there is more than one eyewitness report that can be corroborated. 

I have no beef with Tighar or their work, or their research. I admit I was annoyed when I got to Saipan and someone from their organization called the Saipan newspaper ("Marianas Variety") and claimed I was some "Hollywood" fellow trying to get people to say anything on camera. That I was influencing their replies by 'twisting the questions.' The article was posted before I'd interviewed anyone.

The opposite was true.  I found pretty quickly that if you go to Saipan and ask about Earhart people close their doors in your face.  Or spout the official story that she disappeared.  Unless you ask them the question "So what was it like for you and your family during and prior to the war?"

And when they open up about their experiences, their own life stories - they begin to talk about how well they got along with the Japanese, how Japan brought wealth and friends to the island from 1914 on. That it was only just prior to the onset of war that they suddenly imported battle weary troops from Manchuria who treated the Saipanese "as slaves." Who executed them for not bowing low enough. Who took all of their homes and sent the populace to live in caves.

Photo from a private family album on Saipan

And after those stories, I'd ask "So did you or anyone in your family ever hear anything about a female pilot on Saipan?" 

And they would preface it with "I don't know who she was. If you ask me if it was Earhart, I will tell you - I don't know. We called all Caucasian people Europeans. (Spain ruled Saipan, then Germany, then Japan, now the US.)  

But yes, my "mother" "brother" "father" "grandfather" told the following story..." - and that is the eyewitness testimony I gathered.  10 hours of it.

When the Prime Minister of Japan visited Saipan. A private family photo.

And the stories were the same. She ("the female pilot" "the european woman dressed like a man") came to the island in July of 1937. Many people saw her - only the people who saw her weren't "Europeans."  

As I told the Marianas Variety "It's a peculiar form of racism that doesn't listen to eyewitness testimony of islanders and claims people didn't see what they saw, or for some reason would lie about it, or somehow conspire to tell THE SAME STORY." (emphasis added, because well, it's annoying to have to repeat myself)

I didn't bother uploading the parts where they spoke of how their families survived the war - for example, one fellow said "I saw Amelia just prior to the War."  I said "You mean in 1941?"  He said "No, it was May of 1944. She was on the back of a truck..."  
His memory of seeing Earhart on the back of a truck was
independently corroborated by another Saipanese businessman
who claimed he saw the same truck on the same day a mile further down the road.

I realized May of 44 was just prior to "the war" which began on Saipan in June...when the US came ashore. It's an example of listening with "Caucasian ears."  I thought he meant the war that began in 1941. He meant the war that began on Saipan in 1944.

As I've mentioned before - I was part of the sizzle reel for the History Channel show, and I was asked to be part of it, but I ultimately declined.  

I have my own Earhart projects, and am not invested in selling anyone's point of view. I don't represent the show, or their theory or any other nonsense. 

Yes, the show had many details that can be verified in my research as well. But enough with the "tastes great" "less filling" arguments - there is evidence that points to these simple facts that she landed the plane, it was picked up, and she and plane were taken to Saipan where numerous people saw her, and US Marines found her plane.

I'm just interested in the truth.

We owe that to her at the very least.

I'd like to congratulate Tighar for helping to prove the precise date that the Koshu was in Jaluit.  They got it originally from Vincent Loomis' book about Earhart, who Mr. Gillespie quotes above.

Apparently the ships records prove that the Koshu arrived in Jaluit on July 9th and stayed until the 19th.

Six days after she landed at Mili atoll.

Three days after she was heard broadcasting from her plane (and Tighar's reports show those reports extensively). 

Three days after the Japanese came to the island, arrested her - dragged the Electra (with the help of 40 Marshallese men) onto the barge and transported it to Majuro and then to Jaluit. (The Marshallese men were interviewed by Mike Harris, Dick Spink, Les Kinney and Jim Hayton. I was invited on that trip too, but declined.)

So there you have it. 

Proof that the Koshu was in Jaluit in July, 1937.

Just as its been reported.

Just as its shown in this photograph.

The photo must have been taken sometime between July 9th and 19th, 1937.  

So the Marshallese government says that its elders remember the dock being built in 1936. As they noted so eloquently; there was no dock in 1935.  

The League of Nations forbid it - yet when they built the dock, add fortifications, guns, ammo - they began arresting, beheading, detaining Europeans as spies.

That's why this photograph was classified and in the Office of Naval Intelligence. 

Not because it showed the Electra on a barge on the back of the Koshu. Not because it showed Amelia - or a woman who has the same shoulders as Amelia - or Fred Noonan standing on the dock.

Because it proved there was a new dock.

Just a little bit of evidence that proves the same thing that's been said before.  Amelia was captured by the Japanese, taken to Jaluit - and later to Saipan. Seven years later on June 19th 1944, the Electra was found by US Marines at Aslito airfield on Saipan. (see the eyewitness reports below and to the side of this panel.) Her briefcase was recovered, part of her body, and the Electra itself was destroyed (and witnessed by these GIs)

Saipan is where she died. Where the Electra was found on June 19th 1944 by US Marines.

It's not an opinion, belief or theory.  It's just eyewitness reports.  Not conflicting reports. Consistent reports. The same story. If you can only open your ears.

You're welcome.